The Gardner Public Schools is committed to providing a safe, positive and productive educational environment where students can achieve the highest academic standards. No student shall be subjected to harassment, intimidation, bullying, or cyberbullying.
“Bullying” is the repeated use by one or more students or by a member of a school staff including, but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity or paraprofessional of a written, verbal, or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at a target that: (i) Causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property; (ii) places the target in reasonable fear of harm to him/herself, or of damage to his/her property; (iii) creates a hostile environment at school for the target; (iv) infringes on the rights of the target at school; or (v) materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school. For the purposes of this section, bullying shall include cyber-bullying.
An “Aggressor” is a student or a member of a school staff including, but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extra-curricular activity or paraprofessional who engages in bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation towards a student
“Cyber-bullying” means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a:
- Photo-electronic or photo-optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications.
Cyber-bullying shall also include the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or knowingly impersonates another person as author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.
Cyber-bullying shall also include the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.
“Hostile environment” means a situation in which bullying causes the school environment to be permeated with intimidation, ridicule or insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the student’s education.
“Retaliation” means any form of intimidation, reprisal or harassment directed against a person who reports bullying; provides information during an investigation about bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying.
A “Target” means a student against whom bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation has been perpetrated.
Bullying and cyber-bullying may occur in and out of school, during and after school hours, at home and in locations outside of the home. When bullying and cyber-bullying are alleged, the full cooperation and assistance of parents and families are expected.
For the purpose of this policy, whenever the term bullying is used it is to denote either bullying, or cyber-bullying.
Bullying and retaliation are prohibited:
- On school grounds;
- On property immediately adjacent to school grounds;
- At school-sponsored or school-related activities;
- At functions or programs whether on or off school grounds
- At school bus stops;
- On school buses or other vehicles owned, leased or used by the school district; or,
- Through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by the Gardner Public Schools
Bullying and retaliation are prohibited at a location, activity, function or program that is not school-related or through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by the Gardner Public Schools if the act or acts in question:
- Create a hostile environment at school for the target;
- Infringe on the rights of the target at school; and/or
- Materially and substantially disrupt the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
Prevention and Intervention Plan
The school district, shall develop, adhere to and update a plan to address bullying prevention and intervention in consultation with teachers, school staff, professional support personnel, school volunteers, administrators, community representatives, local law enforcement agencies, students, parents and guardians. The plan shall apply to students and members of a school staff, including, but not limited to, educators, administrators, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches, advisors to an extracurricular activity and paraprofessionals. The consultation shall include, but not be limited to, notice and a public comment period. The plan shall be updated at least biennially.
The Principal is responsible for the implementation and oversight of the bullying prevention and implementation plan within his or her school.
Students, who believe that they are a target of bullying, observe an act of bullying, or who have reasonable grounds to believe that these behaviors are taking place, are obligated to report incidents to a member of the school staff. The target shall, however, not be subject to discipline for failing to report bullying.
Each school shall have a means for anonymous reporting by students of incidents of bullying. No formal disciplinary action shall be taken solely on the basis of an anonymous report.
Any student who knowingly makes a false accusation of bullying shall be subject to disciplinary action.
Parents or guardians, or members of the community, are encouraged to report an incident of bullying as soon as possible.
A member of a school staff shall immediately report any instance of bullying the staff member has witnessed or become aware of to the school principal or their designee.
The Principal or their designee, upon receipt of a viable report, shall promptly contact the parents or guardians of a student who has been the alleged target or alleged aggressor of bullying. The school procedures for responding to the bullying or retaliation and actions being taken to prevent further acts of bullying or retaliation shall be discussed.
Notice to the parent shall be provided in the primary language of the home.
The school principal or a designee shall promptly investigate the report of bullying, using a Bullying Incident Report Form which may include interviewing the alleged target, alleged aggressor, staff members, students and/or witnesses.
Support staff shall assess an alleged target’s needs for protection and create and implement a safety plan that shall restore a sense of safety for that student.
Confidentiality shall be used to protect a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or is witness to or has reliable information about an act of bullying.
If the school principal or a designee determines that bullying has occurred he/she shall take appropriate disciplinary action and if it is believed that criminal charges may be pursued against the aggressor, the principal shall consult with the school’s resource officer and the Superintendent to determine if criminal charges are warranted. If it is determined that criminal charges are warranted, the local law enforcement agency shall be notified. The principal shall document the reasons for his or her decision to notify law enforcement.
The investigation shall be completed within fourteen school days from the date of the report. The parents or guardians shall be contacted upon completion of the investigation and informed of the results, including whether the allegations were found to be factual, whether a violation of this policy was found, and whether disciplinary action has or shall be taken. At a minimum the Principal or his/her designee shall contact the parents or guardians as to the status of the investigation on a weekly basis.
Disciplinary actions for students who have committed an act of bullying or retaliation shall be in accordance with district disciplinary policies.
Each school shall document any incident of bullying that is reported per this policy and a file shall be maintained by the Principal or designee. A monthly report shall be provided to the Superintendent.
If an incident of bullying or retaliation occurs on school grounds and involves a former student under the age of 21 who is no longer enrolled in the school district, the principal of the school informed of the bullying or retaliation shall notify the local law enforcement agency if the principal has a reasonable basis to believe that criminal charges may be pursued against the aggressor.
Confidentiality shall be maintained to the extent consistent with the school's obligations under law. A principal’s notification to a parent about an incident or a report of bullying or retaliation must comply with confidentiality requirements of Massachusetts Student Record Regulations, 603 CMR 23.00 and the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Regulations.
A principal may disclose a determination of bullying or retaliation to local law enforcement without the consent of the student or parent. The principal shall communicate in a manner that protects the privacy of targets, student witnesses, and aggressors to the extent practicable under the circumstances.
A principal may disclose student record information about a target or aggressor to appropriate parties in addition to law enforcement in connection with a health or safety emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals. It is limited to the period of emergency and does not allow for blanket disclosure of student record information. The principal must document the disclosures and reasons determined that a health or safety emergency exists.
Retaliation against a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying shall be prohibited.
The Gardner Public Schools shall provide counselling or referral to appropriate services, including guidance, academic intervention, and protection to students, both targets and aggressors, affected by bullying, as necessary.
Training and Assessment
Annual training shall be provided for school employees and volunteers who have significant contact with students in preventing, identifying, responding to, and reporting incidents of bullying.
Age-appropriate, evidence-based instruction on bullying prevention shall be incorporated into the curriculum for all K to 12 students.
Publication and Notice
Annual written notice of the relevant sections of the bullying prevention and intervention plan shall be provided to students and their parents or guardians, in age-appropriate terms.
Annual written notice of the bullying prevention and intervention plan shall be provided to all school staff. The faculty and staff at each school shall be trained annually on the bullying prevention and intervention plan applicable to the school.
Relevant sections of the bullying prevention and intervention plan relating to the duties of faculty and staff shall be included in the school employee handbook.
The bullying prevention and intervention plan shall be posted on the Gardner Public Schools website.
Before the first day of each school year, the superintendent or designee shall communicate with the chief of police or designee to discuss procedures and updates and any other subject appropriate to how the school district will communicate with the local law enforcement agency regarding suspected criminal charges for bullying incidents.
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan
Title VII, Section 703, Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended
Federal Regulation 74676 Issued by EEO Commission
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
603 CMR 26.00
MGL 265:43, 43A
ACAB, Sexual Harassment
JBA, Student-to-Student Harassment
JK, Student Discipline Regulations
MASC August 2013
[Adopted: January 8, 2001]
[Reviewed: May 2003]
[Revised: June 2007]
[Revised: December 2010]
[Revised: May 2014]
[Revised: May 2017]